BATTING ON: Masters games veteran Keith Doherty, of Lismore, will be competing in his sixth games this year in cricket and baseball.
BATTING ON: Masters games veteran Keith Doherty, of Lismore, will be competing in his sixth games this year in cricket and baseball. Jay Cronan

Spirits still willing, but flesh a bit weak

LISMORE sporting enthusiast Keith Doherty is adamant that the masters games, for older competitors, are as competitive as any sporting event.

But he confesses some days the games look like they are being played in slow motion.

“We're still very good at our sports, but just not fast any more,” Mr Doherty explained.

The 58-year-old cricketer and baseball player has been competing in the Lismore Masters Games since they began in 1999.

The festival, which runs from September 25-27, attracts 2000 competitors to Lismore and injects about $1 million into the region's economy.

Over three days competitors - aged 35 to over 80 - take part in 12 sports, as varied as eight-ball pool to swimming.

“I got involved because I had a close association with the organisers back in 1999,” Mr Doherty said.

“They were taking a huge risk starting those games but it paid off.”

Competitors travel to Lismore from all over Australia, but the bulk comes from South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

This year, for the first time, a team from Papua New Guinea will compete, but in the past teams have travelled from New Zealand.

Two-hundred volunteer referees and officials are needed to run the carnival.

“I remember the organisers being a bit cheeky and telling me that I was old enough to compete, but they weren't,” Mr Doherty said.

“They said they were organising the games to give the aging population something to do.”

Mr Doherty said the first games were so fantastic he has been to all subsequent games, held every two years.

Masters games spokeswoman Leanne Clark said competitors enjoyed the social side of the festival the most.

“Around 60 per cent of the competitors are women and the most popular sports are netball, soccer and softball,” she said.

“People just love the fun, they love competing and they love meeting new people while they are here,” she said.



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